Whales Outside the Window uses drama to tackle tough questions

Performance Hall will host the first-ever performance of Whales Outside the Window Feb. 26, 27 and 28 at 7:30 p.m. The production is the first-year project for the practicum class for four graduate assistants.

The play will be directed by Meg Jones and was written by Lydia Stewart, whose other works include Then Came the Rain and BJU’s version of A Christmas Carol.

The four graduate students – Jones, Janie Board, Stephanie Schlosser and Becca Gossage – are going above and beyond what was required for this project. In order to fulfill the requirement, all that was necessary was a stage reading, but after reading the play, the four decided that the play needed to be fully realized, which is theater terminology for bringing a play to life, Jones said.

The story follows Lily, played by Erin Naler, a member of the communication faculty, and Jonathan, played by Luke Hollis, a junior Bible major. Lily is a published author who is struggling with panic attacks, and Jonathan is her psychologist, who is brought in by her publishers to help her get back on track with her book. In addition to these two key characters, there are only three other cast members.

Gossage calls the play a “memory play,” meaning that it takes place in the memory of one of the characters and tells a thought-provoking story.

“The story itself is deep. It makes you think about life in a ways you haven’t necessarily though about before,” Gossage said.

Jones said the collaboration on this project has been great, and she has been able to give the actors the freedom to develop their characters. “I read the play, and I understand it, and I know about these different characters,” Jones said, “but these people are studying these specific characters, so they know them a lot better than I do.”

Dr. Mary Ann Perez, a member of the communication faculty, plays Avelyn, Lily’s sister, in the play. Perez describes Avelyn as being “greedy and desperate, but she loves her sister.” Perez said this performance, which includes her first speaking role, has been a fun experience.

The cast and crew encourage students to come and experience a play that deals with serious life questions.

“This play is really good at asking big questions,” Hollis said. “It asks those very big questions in a tactful way.”

Tickets are $6 and can be purchased online at bju.universitytickets.com under the “Student Plays” tab.